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Deemed "the Sage of Fountain Inn" by Alexander Woollcott, newspaper publisher and editor Robert Quillen (1887-1948) used the forum of the Fountain Inn Tribune to bring his anecdotes and opinions from small-town upstate South Carolina to an international audience. The Mark Twain or Garrison Keillor of his day, Quillen developed a reputation as an authentic voice of small-town life, and his words were reprinted in Collier's, the Saturday Evening Post, Literary Digest, and other publications. At the height of his syndication, Quillen's writings could be found in more than four hundred newspapers in North America and Europe with a combined circulation above twelve million. Edited by historian John Hammond Moore, the essays, editorials, one-liners, fables, and random comments collected in this volume return to print Quillen's wit and insights after a decades-long hiatus.
A native of Kansas, Quillen became a converted Southerner over time, and his conservative opinions-especially concerning national politics, Depression-era reforms, and the war effort-reflect those circumstances. Presented in chronological order, the previously published and unpublished pieces collected in this volume include Quillen's rants against noisy neighbors, barking dogs, cats, birds, litter, bootleggers, lynching, sordid county politics, and the encroachment of the federal government. Here, too, are his most famous hometown characters, Willie Willis and Aunt Het, as well as "Letters to Louise," his comic public messages to his teenage daughter that proved wildly popular with everyone but the addressee.
In addition to Quillen's pieces, Moore also provides a brief biography and overview of his subject'scareer and literary aspirations beyond the venue of newsprint. Twelve photographs and drawings add a visual element to the collection.
|Publisher:||University of South Carolina Press|
|Product dimensions:||6.10(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.10(d)|
About the Author
Table of ContentsList of Illustrations viii
1925: Wives, Gals, and Mother Eve 1
1926: "You Can't Trust Spring" 14
1928: "As an Uplifter and Reformer, I Am a Dud" 21
1929: "The Bride Is a Skinny, Fast Little Idiot" 73
1930: The Tragic Death of Jack DuPre 87
1931: "The Tribune Is Merely a Private Hobby" 126
1932: Jenkins the Bolshevist, "Cotton Ed," and FDR 169
1933: "Nobody Is Making Money" 218
1934: "Ye Cannot Love Both Birds and Cats" 249
1935: How Rabbits Became Weak Little Runts 279
1936- 1946: Dealing with Change 293
1947: "The Missus Runs the Whole Shebang" 295
1948: "Louise, Your Dad Was a Good Man" 309
What People are Saying About This
"In The Voice of Small-Town America John Hammond Moore has made available to readers a rich compilation of the writings of Robert Quillen. Once again the 'sage of Fountain Inn' speaks in all the freshness and candor that he brought for three decades not only to the South Carolina upstate but to the entire nation. In addition, Moore has provided an insightful context for Quillen's work in his introduction and chapter notes. Today's readers will be as intrigued as Quillen's original audience by the frank assessment of life in a small town in the twentieth century."--(A. V. Huff, Jr., professor emeritus of history, Furman University)
"Robert Quillen's tongue was planted so deeply in his cheek that I doubt he could speak clearly. The Voice of Small-Town America is satire, sarcasm, and uncommonly rational observation in its highest form. Someone needs to pick up where Quillen left off. This book is flat-out fun, and proves that the head-scratching perplexities of 1920-1948 haven't been eradicated."--(George Singleton, author of Work Shirts for Madmen)